Excerpt from The Month of The Leopard by James Harland, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Month of The Leopard

By James Harland

The Month of The Leopard
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback: Jun 2002,
    352 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

He had been riding home on the District Line, another day at the City offices of Samuelson and Company completed. An Evening Standard lay on his lap, but nothing in the news had engaged his interest for more than a few moments. A bunch of yellow roses were tucked beneath his arm, flowers he had bought from the stand outside Monument station, a place where the woman was familiar with his wife's taste for yellow. How he had slipped into the habit of buying her roses at the beginning of every week, he could no longer recollect, and yet it was now part of their routine; flowers, dinner, sex, all in the same order, every Monday evening. It was, he reflected, a pleasant and relaxing start to the week, even if he sometimes wondered if they were slipping into too much of a routine.

A few lines from a Van Morrison song were humming through his mind. "You can't stop us on the road to freedom/You can't stop us, 'cos our hearts are free/ She's as sweeet as Tupelo Honey/ Just like honey from the honey tree." The words looped through his mind, running on instant replay, locked into an aural backdrop that blacked out the sweaty mass of commuters hanging onto railings of the tube train.

The good groove, Tom reflected to himself. Why the thought had come to him just then, he had no idea, but he remembered reading a Van Morrison interview once, where he was asked the only question that really mattered; how was it that all his records sounded exactly the same. With the sort of absolute wisdom, authority and finality that only a Celt can lend to a fundamentally ordinary thought, Morrison replied, "When you find the good groove, there is no need to change it."

The walk from Gloucester Road tube station to the small mews house they had shared for the three years they had been married took no more than ten minutes, but the words stayed with him for most of the journey. There was a simple, almost elemental, truth there, something that probably only a musician could capture. A good groove was what he and Tatyana had together. There was no need to change it.

Indeed, he reflected, there was no need to change anything very much. He had a job he enjoyed, one that combined his interests in economics, and in the politics and history of Eastern Europe; since the stock-markets in those countries had developed, the bank had valued him a lot more highly. True, he was not yet on the board, but then he was still only thirty-seven, and he was only a couple of promotions away. That could come in time, and, anyway, whether it did or not no longer worried him as much as it might have done when he was younger, or as much as it might worry his friends in the club. There was plenty of money coming in, more than enough to support the two of them, and to pay for a couple of children in due course. They had everything he needed.

He was surprised to find the door double locked. A couple of evenings a week Tatyana might go out with some of the girlfriends she had made in London since moving here from Estonia four years ago. She had involved herself in a coupe of charities to build up a network of acquaintances in her new city, and supported a group that raised money for charities in Estonia, though since few people in London could even locate the place on a map the amounts were never huge. And she had been starting to do some work on translating one of the classics of Estonian folk history into English. All of those things kept her busy and interested in life, and sometimes took her away from home in the evenings. But not on Mondays. On Monday they were always together. That was part of the groove.

Tom turned the key in the lock, opening the door, and switching on the light. The entrance to the house opened straight onto the sitting room, a space they had furnished together, and which reflected both of their tastes. The room was painted a pale yellow, with a fireplace dominating one wall, and three large pictures on each of the other walls, works they had chosen together on their travels through the frozen, northern hinterland of the old Soviet Union. On the mantelpiece was a small, bronze bust of Stalin that Tatyana had bought as joke. Tom checked his watch. It was just after seven thirty, and, he supposed, if he started making supper she would no doubt be home soon.

Copyright James Harland, all rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the author or publisher, Simon & Schuster.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.